A court’s verdict at the conclusion of a trial does not always mark the final chapter in a legal matter. In Ontario, avenues exist for challenging and appealing judgments rendered across different tiers of the judicial system. In this article, I will explore the appeals process in Ontario, including appeals from Small Claims Court decisions, Superior Court decisions, and Court of Appeal decisions.
1. Appealing a Small Claims Decision
The Small Claims Court in Ontario is designed to handle disputes involving relatively small amounts of money or personal property, often without the need for costly legal representation. Despite the simplified process, not all parties are content with the outcomes, and they may wish to challenge the decision.
If you are unhappy with the outcome of your Small Claims case, you may appeal the court’s decision to the Divisional Court of Ontario. Where the Court’s decision was final, and for the payment of an amount greater than $3,500, or the recovery of personal property worth more than $3,500, you will be entitled to an appeal. An appeal must be made to the Divisional Court within 30 days of the Small Claim Court’s judgment.
When a case is under appeal, the Divisional Court typically refrains from admitting fresh evidence. Instead, it focuses on reevaluating the existing evidence presented during the initial trial and considers the arguments put forth by both parties to ascertain if the lower court made any errors in its judgment.
2. Appealing a Superior Court Decision
Where a civil claim is for an amount exceeding $35,000, it will fall under the jurisdiction of the Superior Court of Justice. If you are dissatisfied with a Superior Court decision, you may be eligible to bring an appeal to either the Divisional Court or Court of Appeal, depending upon the value of the claim.
When the Superior Court issues a final order with a value of $50,000 or less, you have the right to appeal that decision to the Divisional Court of Ontario. This appeal will be reviewed by a panel of three judges.
If the Superior Court’s order exceeds $50,000 in value, you maintain the right to appeal the court’s decision to the Court of Appeal, where a panel of three Judges will preside over the case.
Appeals from the Superior Court must be filed within 30 days of the date of the initial judgment. On appeal, the Court typically refrains from admitting fresh evidence or listening to new witnesses. Instead, its decision is based on the evidence presented during the original trial, alongside the lower court’s ruling.
3. Appealing a Court of Appeal Decision
The Court of Appeal is the Ontario’s highest court; however, its decisions may be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada- the highest Court in Canada.
An appellant does not have the automatic right to have their appeal heard by the Supreme Court. Rather, they must bring an application for leave to appeal to the Court. This process is highly selective, with the Supreme Court typically granting leave only to those cases that present issues of significant public importance.
If you find yourself dissatisfied with a court’s decision, you don’t have to face the appeals process alone. Our team has extensive experience in the Appellate courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada. We are committed to helping you navigate the complexities of the appeals process and strive to secure the best possible outcome for your case.